One of the last remaining boats that became symbolic for one of the greatest ecological disasters of the 20th century. In the background the village of Zhalanash, a former small fishing village. In happier days, the Aral lake would reach all the way to the village.
Serik Dusenbayev, my guide on one of the salt lakes surrounding the Aralsk region on what used to be the Aral lake. The ground, still covered in seashells, is heavily polluted due to fertilisers that were used in the cotton industry. In the background the clifs of the former lake.
Stuck in the middle with you. With no connection to the outside world, stuck means stuck. One can only pray someone shows up.
Ainur, wife of Eibolar, who will not have her mood ruined and is used stuff happens.
A wild horse stepping towards the rest of the herd on the former Aral lake. With scorching temperatures in summer of up to +45, life can be pretty tough.
The main street of the village Zhalanash. A former fishing village. The water of the Aral lake would reach up to the village. The houses are typical for these kind of villages.
Children having a good time outside. They learn from a young age to trust their instincts.
Posing in front of their house. In the background their broken down Russian built jeep. Nothing will go to waste as there simply isn’t any supply shop.
A child playing outside in the village of Tastubek. This is what Tastubek roughly looks like.
Akerke, wife of Nurzhan, milking the camels in the morning. They have approx. 10 camels. The milk and meat creates extra income and is a consumed almost on a daily basis.
Akerke in one of her more mysterious moods, dreaming of having fun and dancing in Aralsk. She still struggles every now and then with the simple life in Tastubek.
Breakfast at the family Seitbenbetova. The children will eat whatever they feel like.
Ainur, wife of Eibolar (brother of Nurzhan) in the kitchen preparing the food. There is no running water. On the menu, camel meat with homemade pasta.
Dilnaz Seitbenbetov (2013) daughter of Akerke and Nurzhan.
Aiaru Seitbenbetova, daughter of Aibolat and Ainur, angry and frustrated because she wasn’t allowed to go out.
Akerke, the wife of Nurzhan together with her mother in law Bayan Seitbenbetova and her sister in law Ainur, wife of Eibolar (brother of Nurzhan).
Zhaksibek Molzhigitov (1969), visser en vader van Akerke.
Zhaksibek Molzhigitov (1969) cleaning the fishing nets. The nets are from China, cheap, lousy quality and forbidden by the government. Yet, because of the
cost in comparisson with Russian produced nets widely used by the fishermen.
One of the Tastubek fihsermen leaving for the Aral lake to go fishing.
It’s 10:00 in the morning in the vicinity of Tastubek. After three days of wind and storm the fishermen are finally gearing up to go fishing.
A fisherman from the village of Tastubek arriving at the lake.
Nurzhan on his way to his fishing nets.
After hauling in the fishing net, the fishermen will return to the shore.
Hauling in the fish. Dressing in whatever protects them from the wind and water.
One of the fisherman pulling their fishing net in the early morning.
Zhakon (1992) in the front of the boat hauling in the fish comes from Sekseuil. Nobody knows his surname.
Nurzhan having a chat with Zhakon who on the front of their boat hauls in the fish. Check out the tape on the outboat motor. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Yerkin pulling the fish from the net. 15 different fish species have re-emerged in the northern Aral lake.
Yerkin together with Nurzhan pulling the fish from the net.
A Tastubek fisherman hauling in today’s catch.
Omerserik Ibragimov (1994) hauling in the fish on his boat dating from the time when the Russians were still very present in Kazachstan. Omerserik lives oppostie Nurzhan.
Nurzhan and Yerkin bringing today’s catch to the shore.
Reflecting and relaxing after a morning of fishing.
The sun is slowly going under at the the Aral lake. In front of the boat are torn fishing nets left behind on the shore of the Aral lake where it mixes over time
with the mud.
Serik, my local guide. Wondering if the water will ever return to Aralsk. The former fishing port.
Akerke. Worried at times what the future will bring.
At the entrance of the village there is a small fish facility where all the fish caught at the lake is being processed and prepared for transport to Aralsk.
Freshly caught fish is taken to the local fish factory. There the fish will be sorted and prepared for export to Aralsk. The fish facility is owned by a local businessman, Amanbai Yerkhatov.
Women working at the Kambala Balik fish factory in Aralsk. The fish comes from the Aral lake and villages like Tastubek. Most of the fish is destined for Russia.
The smoked fish is very often sold at little shops like this one in Aralsk.